Victorian Morals and Manners

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Emily Post, etiquette, etc.

http://www.bartleby.com/95/

Emily Post, etiquette, etc.

http://www.bartleby.com/95/

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Victorian morality

The term Victorian morality applies not only to the moral (moral: The significance of a story or event) views of people living at the time of Queen Victoria (reigned 1837 - 1901), but also to the general moral climate of Britain (Britain: A monarchy in northwestern Europe occupying most of the British Isles; divided into England and Scotland and Wales and Northern Ireland) throughout the 19th century (19th century: (18th century - 19th century - 20th century - more centuries)...[follow hyperlink for more...]) and to anybody who adopts similar moral opinions.Historians now regard the Victorian era (Victorian era: the victorian era of great britain is considered the height of the british industrial...[follow hyperlink for more...]) as one of many contradictions. A plethora of social movements concerned with improving public morals co-existed with a class system (class system: a social class is, in the most basic sense, a group of people that shares the same or similar...[follow hyperlink for more...]) which allowed the persistence of harsh living conditions for many. Possibly many people might perceive a contradiction between the widespread cultivation of an outward appearance of dignity and restraint and the widespread presence of social phenomena which include prostitution (prostitution: Offering sexual intercourse for pay) , child labour (child labour: the term child labor can have a connotation of systematic exploitation of children for...[follow hyperlink for more...]) , and an imperialist (imperialist: A believer in imperialism) ic colonising (colonising: in politics and in history, a colony is a territory under the immediate political...[follow hyperlink for more...]) economy (economy: The system of production and distribution and consumption) . However, one can also view these apparent contradictions as two sides of the same coin, since the various social reform movements and high principles had origins in attempts to improve the harsh conditions.The term Victorian has acquired a range of connotations, including that of a particularly strict set of moral (moral: The significance of a story or event) standards, often applied hypocritically. This stems from the image of Queen Victoria (Queen Victoria: Queen of Great Britain and Ireland and empress of India from 1837 to 1901 (1819-1901)) herself -- and her husband, Prince Albert (Prince Albert: A man's double-breasted frock coat) , perhaps even more so -- as innocents, unaware of the private habits of many of her respectable subjects - this particularly relates to their sex lives (sex lives: more facts about this subject) . This image has little accuracy. Victoria's attitude to sexual morality (sexual morality: Morality with respect to sexual relations) actually sprang from her knowledge of the corrosive effect which the loose morals of the aristocracy (aristocracy: A privileged class holding hereditary titles) in earlier reigns had had on the public's respect for the nobility and the Crown (the Crown: the crown is a term which is used to separate the government authority and property of the...[follow hyperlink for more...]) .Two hundred years earlier the puritan (puritan: Adheres to strict religious principles; opposed to sensual pleasures) republic (republic: A form of government whose head of state is not a monarch) an movement and Oliver Cromwell (Oliver Cromwell: English general and statesman who led the parliamentary army in the English Civil War (1599-1658)) had temporarily overthrown the British monarchy. During England (England: A division of the United Kingdom) 's years as a republic (republic: A form of government whose head of state is not a monarch) , the law imposed a strict moral code of fundamentalist (fundamentalist: A supporter of fundamentalism) Christianity (Christianity: A monotheistic system of beliefs and practices based on the Old Testament and the teachings of Jesus as embodied in the New Testament and emphasizing the role of Jesus as savior) on the people (even abolishing Christmas (Christmas: A Christian holiday celebrating the birth of Christ; a quarter day in England, Wales, and Ireland) as too indulgent of the sensual pleasures).By reaction, when the monarchy was restored (restored: restoration can be one of several things, depending on context:...[follow hyperlink for more...]) a period of loose living and debauchery had resulted. See: King Charles II of England (King Charles II of England: more facts about this subject) . The two social forces of puritanism and libertinism (libertinism: libertine is the name given to certain political or social groups active in europe in the...[follow hyperlink for more...]) continued to motivate the collective psyche of the United Kingdom (United Kingdom: A monarchy in northwestern Europe occupying most of the British Isles; divided into England and Scotland and Wales and Northern Ireland) from the restoration onward. It is interesting to examine these social forces in relation to Hegel (Hegel: German philosopher whose three stage process of dialectical reasoning was adopted by Karl Marx (1770-1831)) 's theory of historical dialectic (dialectic: Any formal system of reasoning that arrives at the truth by the exchange of logical arguments) .By the time of Victoria the interplay between high cultured morals and low vulgarity was thoroughly embedded in the culture.Victorian prudery sometimes went so far as to deem it improper to say "leg" in mixed company (the preferred euphemism (euphemism: An inoffensive expression that is substituted for one that is considered offensive) if such must be mentioned was "limb"), and people would even put skirts on piano (piano: A stringed instrument that is played by depressing keys that cause hammers to strike tuned strings and produce sounds) legs in the name of modesty (modesty: Freedom from vanity or conceit) . Those going for a dip in the sea (sea: A division of an ocean or a large body of salt water partially enclosed by land) at the beach (beach: An area of sand sloping down to the water of a sea or lake) would use a bathing machine (bathing machine: A building containing dressing rooms for bathers) . Verbal or written communication of emotion (emotion: Any strong feeling) or sexual feeling (sexual feeling: libido in its common usage means sexual desire, however more technical definitions, such...[follow hyperlink for more...]) s was also often verboten (verboten: verboten is the german equivalent of forbidden or prohibited....[follow hyperlink for more...]) so people instead used the language of flowers (language of flowers: the language of flowers, sometimes called floriography, was a victorian-era means of...[follow hyperlink for more...]) .Victoria ascended to the throne in 1837, only four years after the abolition (abolition: The act of abolishing a system or practice or institution (especially abolishing slavery)) of slavery (slavery: The practice of owning slaves) in the British Empire (British Empire: Formerly the United Kingdom and all the territories under its control; reached its greatest extent at the end of World War I) . The anti-slavery movement had campaigned for years to achieve the ban, succeeding with a partial abolition in 1807 and the full ban in 1833. It had taken so long because the anti-slavery morality was pitted against a powerful capitalist element in the empire which claimed that their businesses would be destroyed if they were not permitted to exploit slave labour. Eventually plantation (plantation: A newly established colony (especially in the colonization of North America)) owners in the Caribbean (Caribbean: Region including the Caribbean islands) received £20 million in compensation (compensation: Something (such as money) given or received as payment or reparation (as for a service or loss or injury)) .In Victoria's time the British Royal Navy (Royal Navy: the royal navy of the united kingdom is the "senior service" of the armed services, being...[follow hyperlink for more...]) patrolled the Atlantic (Atlantic: The 2nd largest ocean; separates North and South America on the west from Europe and Africa on the east) , stopping any ships which it suspected of trading Africa (Africa: The second largest continent; located south of Europe and bordered to the west by the South Atlantic and to the east by the Indian Ocean) n slaves to the Americas (Americas: North and South America) and freeing any slaves found. The British had set up a Crown Colony (Crown Colony: A British colony controlled by the British Crown, represented by a governor) in West Africa --Sierra Leone (Sierra Leone: A republic in West Africa; achieved independence from the United Kingdom in 1961) -- and transported freed slaves there. Freed slaves from Nova Scotia (Nova Scotia: The Canadian province in the Maritimes consisting of the Nova Scotia peninsula and Cape Breton Island; French settlers who called the area Acadia were exiled to Louisiana by the British in the 1750s and their descendants are know as Cajuns) founded and named the capital of Sierra Leone: Freetown (Freetown: Port city and the capital and largest city of Sierra Leone) . Thus, when Victoria became Queen the British could bask on the high moral ground as the nation which stood for freedom and decency. Many people living at that time argued that the conditions under which workers in English factories lived seemed worse than those which some of the slaves had endured.In the same way, throughout the Victoran Era, movements for justice, freedom and other strong moral values opposed greed, exploitation and cynicism (cynicism: A cynical feeling of distrust) . The writings of Charles Dickens (Charles Dickens: English writer whose novels depicted and criticized social injustice (1812-1870)) in particular observed and recorded these conditions. Marx and Engels carried out much of their analysis of capitalism (capitalism: An economic system based on private ownership of capital) in and as a reaction to Victorian Britain.

http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/reference/victorian_morality

Victorian Morality: The English Disease

If the excesses of the so-called sexual revolution had an intellectual effect, it would be a certain fascination with its obverse: the elaborate chastity belt of nineteenth century inhibitions. In the French Lieutenant's Woman these conflicting world views are startlingly juxtaposed. While neither represents a desirable image, against the back-drop of contemporary banality, Victorian morality is at least intellectually stimulating. The nineteenth century has past to posterity the intricacies of Freudian psychoanalysis and by comparison the impact of modern sexual license is as barren as a dildo.
The novel, from which the film is derived, is very self-consciously written, replete with digressions on character, structure and philosophy. It is a book about writing a book, and it works. The movie attempts to recreate this in film by devising a contemporary story parallel to the Victorian romance. This doesn't work. Any initial interest in the idea of a dual narrative dies a quick, if somewhat painful death, doomed by the massive irrelevance of the sub-plot. A casual affair between two movie actors is hardly earth-shattering and has none of the force and depth of repressed nineteenth century sexuality. The melodrama of whether their liason would last until the end of the movie or simply be revealed as Californian-style serial polygamy, pales into nothingness when contrasted with the duties of a mid-Victorian man to a despoiled virgin.
Meryl Streep, the current darling, is Sarah, the French Lieutenant's Woman. In fact, she isn't anyone else's woman but since people believe she is, in effect it becomes so. She is guilty only of having expressed sexual feelings -- quite enough at the time to place her outside the white picket fence of polite society. She is at once mysterious and independent, free to suffer existentialist anguish.
Ironically, Charles is attracted more by the tarnished reputation than the independence. During their brief climactic encounter, she was the innocent who exuded worldliness, he the upper class rake who fumbled with his clothes as awkwardly as he had with the substrata of Victorian morality. It was by no means an auspicious awakening for Sarah. The ten second frenzy of immediate ejaculation must have done nothing for her repressions and reinforced the Victorian image that sex was hardly worth the bother for a woman, that it was purely for procreation, and so Sarah found it.
By violating a virgin, it was Charles' honour which was tarnished. Caught in a dilemma between the verbal contract with Tina and the prerogatives of a woman's most "precious possession" -- and being independently wealthy which lessened the pain of the future cast aside -- Charles chose the gentlemanly solution and vowed to marry Sarah. For doing so he forfeited the right to be called a gentleman by not accepting Tina's solution -- the tacit acceptance of the Victorian double standard.
Despite appearances, then, the French Lieutenant's Woman is not a film about love, or romance, but rather is about sex, a far less intriguing topic in contemporary trappings than in the stiff collars and constricting bodices of the reign of England's hardly-virginal Queen.
Anthony Thomson 1981
http://ace.acadiau.ca/soci/agt/RevFrenchLW.htm

Victorian Culture

The social and moral values of the nineteenth century were influenced greatly by Queen Victoria. These values included devotion to family life, public and private responsibility, and obedience to the law. Queen Victoria was important because of the good manners, morality and devotion to hard work she brought to her role. She made certain that her country was kept in high esteem throughout the world.

Education of the mind was starting to bloom for the working classes. The “Public Libraries Acts” of 1845 and 1850 helped fuel the desire for literacy and social “betterment.” Books could be borrowed for a small fee from libraries and grocers’ stores, and schooling was made more readily available by the Church. Discoveries in medicine encouraged doctors to focus their attention on public health and hygiene. Public baths were introduced to the Victorian populace in the middle of the century. They were said to have “improved health and morals...” which was considered “a great step towards the purification of mind.”

http://www.drama.uwaterloo.ca/Gross%20Indecency/victorian.shtml

Victorian Culture

The social and moral values of the nineteenth century were influenced greatly by Queen Victoria. These values included devotion to family life, public and private responsibility, and obedience to the law. Queen Victoria was important because of the good manners, morality and devotion to hard work she brought to her role. She made certain that her country was kept in high esteem throughout the world.

Education of the mind was starting to bloom for the working classes. The “Public Libraries Acts” of 1845 and 1850 helped fuel the desire for literacy and social “betterment.” Books could be borrowed for a small fee from libraries and grocers’ stores, and schooling was made more readily available by the Church. Discoveries in medicine encouraged doctors to focus their attention on public health and hygiene. Public baths were introduced to the Victorian populace in the middle of the century. They were said to have “improved health and morals...” which was considered “a great step towards the purification of mind.”

http://www.drama.uwaterloo.ca/Gross%20Indecency/victorian.shtml

Victorian online

Table Manners and Etiquette.
It is of the highest importance that all persons should conduct themselves with the strictest regard to good breeding, even in the privacy of their own homes, when at the table, a neglect of such observances will render one stiff and awkward in society. There are so many little points to be observed, that unless a person is habitually accustomed to observe them, he unconsciously commits some error, or will appear awk-
ward and constrained upon occasions when it is important to be fully at ease. To be thoroughly at ease at such times is only acquired by the habitual practice of good manners at the table, and is the result of proper home training. It is the duty of parents to accustom their children, by example
as well as by precept, to be attentive and polite to each other at every meal, as well as to observe proper rules of etiquette, and if they do so, they need never fear that they will be rude or awkward when they go abroad. Even when persons habitually eat alone, they should pay due respect to the rules of etiquette, for by so doing they form habits of ease and gracefulness which are requisite in refined circles; otherwise they speedily acquire rude and awkward habits which they cannot shake off without great difficulty, and, which are at times embarrassing to themselves and their friends. In private families it should be observed as a rule to meet together at all meals of the day around one common table, where the same rules of etiquette should be rigidly enforced, as though each member of the family were sitting at a stranger's table. It is only by this constant practice of the rules of good behaviour at home, that good manners become easy when any of them go abroad.

The Rules of Etiquette
Rules of etiquette have their allotted place among the forces of life, and must be acknowledged as moral agents in refining and making more agreeable our daily intercourse with each other. They are agents for good. They teach us to be more lenient with the various elements which compose society, as life is a sort of partnership in which each human being has an interest; so the laws of etiquette, well enforced, oblige us to make concessions to the many tastes, prejudices and habits of those we meet in the social circle, at public entertainments, in business relations, or when travelling. At the same time these rules, although they should guide the general conduct, may, in certain cases, be relaxed or changed slightly, according to circumstances or exigencies that may arise. But that does not do away with the necessity for a set of customs or forms that will guide every member of society in knowing just what to do when launched upon the tide of human beings who make life what it is. If the value of good breeding is in danger of being depreciated, it is only necessary to compare the impression which a gentle, pleasant demeanor leaves upon you, with the gruff, abrupt or indifferent carriage of those who affect to despise good manners. If two applicants for a position are equally capable, it is safe to assert that in every case the agreeable and courteous seeker will obtain it in preference to the other, who is his equal in all respects, save that he is deficient in that suave dignity that attracts every one. We are all susceptible to the charm of good manners. Society could not be maintained save for the usages of etiquette. But true etiquette must spring from a sincere desire to make all with whom we come in contact feel at ease; the exercise of a thoughtful regard for the feelings of others. It is this patient forbearance with the eccentricities of all, which stamps the truelady or gentleman. It is a duty which each one owes to himself, to acquire certain rules for guidance, which shall make him a welcome guest in any circle.
What Etiquette Really Is
Etiquette is not a servile yielding up of one's individuality, or a mere cold formality. It is rather the beautiful frame which is placed around a valuable picture to prevent its being marred or defaced. Etiquette throws a protection around the well-bred, keeping the course and disagreeable at a distance, and punishing those who violate her dictates, with banishment from the social circle

Soft Voices in Women
Such a man is indeed an ideal gentleman, and we believe our land has many such noble specimens. But is a gentleman needs to be all this, how much more essential are good manners to a woman! A rude, loud-spoken, uncultured woman is a positive blot upon nature, and repels, by her lack of breeding, those who would not be slow to acknowledge the real worth and talent she possesses, and which would come to the surface were she clothed in the beautiful garments of modesty, gentle speech and ease of manner. A lady should be quiet in her manners, natural and unassuming in her language, careful to wound no one's feelings, but giving generously and freely from the treasures of her pure mind to her friends. Scorning no one openly, she should feel gentle pity for the unfortunate, the inferior and the ignorant, at the same time carrying herself with an innocence and single-heartedness which disarms ill nature, and wins respect and love from all. Such an one is a model for her sex; the "bright particular star" on which men look with reverence. The influence of such a woman is a power for good which cannot be over-estimated

Manners Necessary to Good Standing
As young King Henry said to the princess, "We are the makers of manners," so we are unconsciously the makers of manners in our circle, whose good influence may last for years. Refinement and politeness have a charm for everyone. Even the coarsest nature feels their power, and many a pleasant memory clusters around the possessors of these two admirable gifts. Manners are obligatory upon men. A man who is gentle, defers to others, listens respectfully to the aged, or to those who are inferior to him in position or intelligence, is liked by everyone. His presence is a protection to women, his conversation is a wealth of pleasure, and all feel bettered by sharing his society. To be all this, he must be, as a well-known author says : "A clean man, body and soul. He acts kindly from the impulse of his kind heart. He is brave, because, with a conscience void of offence, he has nothing to fear. He is never embarrassed, for he respects himself and is profoundly conscious of right intentions. To preserve his self-respect he keeps his honour unstained, and to retain the good opinion of others he neglects no civility. He respects even the prejudices of men whom he believes are honest; opposes without bitterness, and yields without admitting defeat. He is never arrogant, never weak. He bears himself with dignity, but never haughtily. Too wise to despise trifles, he is too noble to be mastered by them. To superiors he is respectful without servility; to equals courteous; to inferiors so kind that they forget their inferiority. He carries himself with grace in all places, is easy but never familiar, genteel without affectation. His quick perceptions tell him what to do under all circumstances, and he approaches a king with as much ease as he would display in addressing a beggar. He unites gentleness of manner with firmness of mind; commands with mild authority, and asks favours with grace and assurance. Always well-informed and observant of events, but never pedantic, he wins his way to the head through the heart, by the shortest route, and keeps good opinions once won, because he deserves them."
Soft Voices in Women
Such a man is indeed an ideal gentleman, and we believe our land has many such noble specimens. But is a gentleman needs to be all this, how much more essential are good manners to a woman! A rude, loud-spoken, uncultured woman is a positive blot upon nature, and repels, by her lack of breeding, those who would not be slow to acknowledge the real worth and talent she possesses, and which would come to the surface were she clothed in the beautiful garments of modesty, gentle speech and ease of manner. A lady should be quiet in her manners, natural and unassuming in her language, careful to wound no one's feelings, but giving generously and freely from the treasures of her pure mind to her friends. Scorning no one openly, she should feel gentle pity for the unfortunate, the inferior and the ignorant, at the same time carrying herself with an innocence and single-heartedness which disarms ill nature, and wins respect and love from all. Such an one is a model for her sex; the "bright particular star" on which men look with reverence. The influence of such a woman is a power for good which cannot be over-estimated.Every young girl can become such a lady. Men strive to please and honour such women, and through them must come those refinements of manner and speech so necessary in society, for which they thus become the makers of manners worthy to be imitated.
Beauty Worthless Without Culture
A woman may be gifted with great beauty, and yet be very unprepossessing, if she does not cultivate that knowledge of the laws of etiquette which will enable her to conduct herself so that she will not attract attention by her awkwardness and ignorance of forms. It is a common saying that many a woman who has no personal charms to boast of is much more fascinating than her more beautiful sisters, some of whom have depended entirely upon their looks to please, forgetting that "beauty is only skin-deep," and that the flower without perfume is not admired, as is the less showy but fragrant blossom. Fine manners are the outward manifestations of an inward beauty that the world is quick to discern. Society is held together by certain unchangeable laws, which bind its different members in one harmonious whole. When these laws are ignored through ignorance or indifference, how mortifying become the experiences of those who commit a sin against good breeding. How earnestly they wish that they had been taught better!
Good Manners Compel Respect
To be mannerly and respectful, to know how to accept the amenities of social life and to return them in kind, compels respect, and commands entrance into good society. And this can be attained by any one, rich or poor, in this broad land of ours, where the narrow distinctions of caste have not as yet secured a foothold, and where every man is as good as a king. Thus good manners become a practical lever with which to raise one in his daily life. Wealth needs their aid to give character and tone to thesurroundings. The poor man needs them to assist him in finding a higher position, which shall be more independent. Believing, then, in the intrinsic value of etiquette, we would say, in the words of another : "The finest nature and the most generous impulses cannot make graceful habits. He who knows society at its best is easily master of himself in any lower level. Those who have been bred in an atmosphere of intelligent refinement, and know no way but the right way, are happy, because mistakes to them are well nigh impossible, but the thousands in whose busy lives there has been time for little else but useful and honourable work, but whose ambition prompts them to self-culture, need not despair of mastering all necessary social forms, and acquiring that gentle courtesy which is the winning secret of the gently bred."

THE BREAKFAST.
At the first meal of the day, even in the most orderly households, an amount of freedom is allowed, which would be unjustifiable at any other meal. The head of the house may look over his morning paper, and the various other members may glance over correspondence or such books or studies as they are interested in. Each may rise and leave the table when business or pleasure dictates, without awaiting for the others or for a general signal. The breakfast table should be simply decorated, yet it may be made very attractive with its snowy cloth and napkins, its array of glass, and its ornamentation of fruits and flowers. Bread should be placed upon the table, cut in slices. In eating, it must always be broken, never cut, and certainly not bitten. Fruit should be served in abundance at breakfast whenever practicable. There is an old adage which declares that "fruit is gold in the morning, silver at noon, and lead at night."
LUNCHEON.
In many of our large cities, where business prevents the head of the family from returning to dinner until a late hour, luncheon is served about midday and serves as an early dinner for children and servants. There is much less formality in the serving of lunch than of dinner. It is all placed upon the table at once, whether it consists of one or more courses. Where only one or two are at luncheon, the repast is ordinarily served on a tray.
DINNER.
The private family dinner should be the social hour of the day. Then parents and children should meet together, and the meal should be of such length as to admit of the greatest sociality. It is an old saying that chatted food is half digested. The utmost good feeling should prevail among allBusiness and domestic cares and troubles should be, for the time, forgotten, and the pleasures of the home most heartily enjoyed. In another chapter we have spoken at length upon fashionable dinner parties.
THE KNIFE AND FORK.
The knife and fork were not made for playthings, and should not be used as such when people are waiting at the table for the food to be served. Do not hold them erect in your hands at each side of your plate, nor cross them on your plate when you have finished, nor make a noise with them. The knife should only be used for cutting meats and hard substances, while the fork, held in the left hand, is used in carrying food to the mouth. A knife must never, on any account, be put into the mouth. When you send your plate to be refilled, do not send your knife and fork, but put them upon a piece of bread, or hold them in your hand.
GREEDINESS.
To put large pieces of food into your mouth appears greedy, and if you are addressed when your mouth is so filled, you are obliges to pause, before answering, until the vast mouthful is masticated, or run the risk of choking, by swallowing it too hastily. To eat very fast is also a mark of greediness, and should be avoided. The same may be said of soaking up gravy with bread, scraping up sauce with a spoon, scraping your plate and gormandizing upon one or two articles of food only.
GENERAL RULES OF TABLE ETIQUETTE.
Refrain from making a noise when eating, or supping from a spoon, and from smacking the lips or breathing heavily when masticating food, as they are marks of ill-breeding. The lips should be kept closed in eating as much as possibleIt is rude and awkward to elevate your elbows and move your arms at the table, so as to incommode those on either side of you. Whenever one or both hands are unoccupied, they should be kept below the table, and not pushed upon the table and into prominence. Do not leave the table before the rest of the family or guests, without asking the head, or host, to excuse you, except at a hotel or boarding house. Tea or coffee should never be poured into a saucer to cool, but sipped from the cup. If a person wishes to be served with more tea or coffee, he should place his spoon upon his saucer. If he has had sufficient, let it remain in the cup. If by chance anything unpleasant is found in the food, such as a hair in the bread of a fly in the coffee, remove it without remark. Even though your own appetite be spoiled, it is well not to prejudice others. Always make use of the butter-knife, sugar-spoon and salt-spoon, instead of using your knife, spoon or fingers. Never, if possible, cough or sneeze at the table. At home fold your napkin when you are done with it and place it in your ring. If you are visiting, leave your napkin unfolded beside your plate. Eat neither too fast nor too slow. Never lean back in your chair, nor sit too near nor too far from the table. Keep your elbows at your side, so that you may not inconvenience your neighbors. Do not find fault with the food. The old-fashioned habit of abstaining from taking the last piece upon the plate is no longer observed. It is to be supposed that the vacancy can be supplied, if necessary. If a plate is handed you at the table, keep it yourself instead of passing it to a neighbor. If a dish is passed to you, serve yourself first, and then pass it on. The host or hostess should not insist upon guests partaking of particular dishes; nor ask persons more than once, nor put anything on their plates which they have declined. It is ill-bred to urge a person to eat of anything after he has declined. When sweet corn is served on the ear, the grain should be pared from it upon the plate, instead of being eaten from the cob. Strive to keep the cloth as clean as possible, and use the edge of the plate or a side dish for potato skins and other refuse.

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A Local Womans Demeanor

Carry Yourself with Grace. The beauties of the charming picture framed by one's dress are enhanced by moving with grace. To walk with style is rare enough, but when it comes to being able to site down in a dress properly -- well, there are not many equal to that, I can tell you.
Keep Your Arms from Going Astray. A question often comes up, not so easily answered: What shall I do with my hands and arms? Some ladies carry a fan. But you cannot always have one in your hands, so it is better to keep the arms pressed lightly against the sides in walking or sitting. This position for the hands, although a little stiff at first, will soon become easy and graceful. Ladies should never adopt the ungraceful habit of folding their arms or of placing them akimbo.
Be Graceful in Your Manners. A lady should be quiet in her manners, natural and unassuming in her language, careful to wound no one's feelings, but giving generously and freely from the treasures of her pure mind to her friends. She should scorn no one openly but have a gentle pity for the unfortunate, the inferior, and the ignorant, at the same time carrying herself with an innocence and singleheartedness that disarm ill nature and win respect and love from all. Such a lady is a model for her sex, the "bright particular star" on which men look with reference. The influence of such a woman is a power for good that cannot be overestimated.
Limit Your Observations. A boisterous, loud-talking man is disagreeable enough, but a woman who falls into the habit is almost unendurable. Many times have we seen an inoffensive husband tucked completely out of sight by the superabundant flow of volubility proceeding from a wife, who, we like to believe, is by nature intended to be the gentler and restraining element.
Be not Excessively Frank. Do not take pride in offensively expressing yourself on every occasion under the impression that you will be admired for your frankness. Speaking one's mind is an extravagance, which has ruined many a person.
Always Accept Apologies. Only ungenerous minds will not do so. If one is due from you, make it unhesitatingly.
Listen. When a "tale of woe" is poured into your ears, even though you cannot sympathize, do not wound by appearing indifferent. True politeness decrees that you shall listen patiently and respond kindly.
Laugh at the Appropriate Time. Don't laugh when a funny thing is being said until the climax is reached. Do not laugh at your own wit; allow others to do that.
Kiss Sparingly. Many times a contagious disease has been conveyed in a kiss. The kiss is a seal of pure and earnest love and should never be exchanged save between nearest and dearest friends and relatives. Indeed, public sentiment and good taste decree that even among lovers it should not be so often indulged in as to cause any regret on the part of the lady should an engagement chance to be broken off. Let promiscuous kissing, then, be consigned to the tomb of oblivion.
Use Tact When Admonishment is Necessary. Tact is needed in a friend to show us our weaknesses; also with employers and parents. How many do harm instead of good in their manner of rebuking, sounding instead of rousing the self-respect of those they reprimand!
Refrain from Eyeing Over Other Women. Few observant persons can have failed to notice the manner in which one woman, who is not perfectly well bred or perfectly kind hearted, will eye over another woman, whom she thinks is not in such good society and, above all, not at the time being in so costly a dress as she herself is in. Who cannot recall hundreds of instances of that sweep of the eye, which takes in a glance the whole woman and what she has on from to-knot to shoe-tie. It is done in an instant. No other evidence than this eyeing is needed that a woman, whatever be her birth or breeding, has a small and vulgar soul.
--> Treat Enemies Kindly. If you have an enemy and an opportunity occurs to benefit the person in matters great or small, do good service without hesitation. If you would know what it is to feel noble and strong within yourself, do this secretly and keep it secret. A person who can act thus, will soon feel at ease anywhere. If enemies meet at a friend's house, lay aside all appearance of animosity while there and meet on courteous terms.
Greet Friends with Discretion. A lady does not call out to friends or inquire after their health in a boisterous fashion. Ladies do not rush up to each other and kiss effusively. It is a foolish practice for ladies to kiss each other every time they meet, particularly on the street. It is positively vulgar; a refined woman shrinks from any act that makes her conspicuous. Such practice belongs rather to the period of "gush" natural to very young girls and should be discouraged on physiological grounds, if no other.

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Rituals II - Etiquette

Points of Etiquette

A proper young lady had to learn the rules of etiquette that almost had the force of morality in Victorian life - from how to walk down the street, or eat fruit genteely (first peeling it with a silver knife and cutting it in bite-size morsels), to how to behave in every social situation. Below are just a few points of etiquette that were popular during the Victorian era. Some of these could still be beneficial in today's society.

  • Victorian girls were trained early on in life to prepare herself for a life dedicated to home and family if she married, and charity if she didn't. And young ladies, though advised on the importance of catching a man, were warned not to be too liberal in display of their charms. Meekness and modesty were considered beautiful virtues.

  • Invitations should be sent at least seven to ten days before the day fixed for an event, and should be replied to within a week of their receipt, accepting or declining with regrets.

  • Never lend a borrowed book. Be particular to return one that has been loaned to you, and accompany it with a note of thanks.

  • Rise to one's feet as respect for an older person or dignitary.

  • What can I say? A true gentleman tips their hat to greet a lady, opens doors, and always walks on the outside.

  • Break bread or roll into morsels rather than eating the bread whole.

  • Conversation is not to talk continually, but to listen and speak in our turn.

  • Do not monopolize conversation or interrupt another speaker to finish his story for him.

  • And as for the Gentlemen, they should be seen and not smelled. They should use but very little perfume, as too much of it is in bad taste.

  • A lady, when crossing the street, must raise her dress a bit above the ankle while holding the folds of her gown together in her right hand and drawing them toward the right. It was considered vulgar to raise the dress with both hands as it would show too much ankle, but was tolerated for a moment when the mud is very deep. As told by The Lady's Guide to Perfect Gentility.

  • A young lady should be expected to shine in the art of conversation, but not too brightly. Etiquette books of the era concentrate on the voice, rather than the content of speech, encouraging her to cultivate that distinct but subdued tone.

  • When introduced to a man, a lady should never offer her hand, merely bow politely and say, "I am happy to make your acquaintance."

  • While courting, a gentleman caller might bring only certain gifts such as flowers, candy or a book. A woman could not offer a gentleman any present at all until he had extended one to her, and then something artistic, handmade and inexpensive was permissible.

  • Young people should not expect friends to bestow wedding gifts. It is a custom that sometimes bears heavily on those with little to spend. Gifts should only be given by those with ties of relationship, or those who wish to extend a warm sentiment of affection. In fact, by 1873 the words No presents received are engraved upon the cards of invitations.

  • A gentleman may delicately kiss a lady's hand, the forehead, or at most, the cheek.

  • If you are conversing with people who know less than you, do not lead the conversation where they cannot follow.

  • A lady should never join in any rude plays that will subject her to be kissed or handled in any way by gentlemen. ie: If a hand reaches out to admire a breast pin, draw back and take it off for inspection.

http://home.kendra.com/victorianrituals/Victor/ritualsII.htm

Victorian Etiquette

In the Victorian era there were etiquette laws that dictated a person's actions in every imaginable situation. The laws were unwritten, but understood by the upper social class. Following these social rules would put a person in good social standing with his or her peers and would give them a good reputation. Throughout the 1800's and even into the early 1900's upper class citizens in both the United States and some parts of Europe followed such rules.
There existed rules for such things as:
courting
engagements
weddings
business
visits to the home
every type of social engagement
Courting
Courting was an art form in the Victorian Era. An interested gentleman could not simply walk up to a young lady and begin a conversation. Even after being introduced, it was still some time before it was considered appropriate for a man to speak to a lady or for a couple to be seen together. The Victorian lovers were quite creative in overcoming the strict social rules.
Marriage
Marriage was a long and complicated process. Beginning even before the engagement certain rules were followed to ensure that a couple was a good pair. There were even rules dictating what type of people could marry other types of people!
The Language of Flowers
The Victorian Era is known for its love of flowers. Beautiful arrangements of flowers are shown on pictures, cards, stationary, and other remembrances of the past. Flowers were not used only for decoration however. Each had it's own special meaning and could be used to communicate messages.

--This page was created by Emily Alfson for an Advanced Placement United States History class at City High-Middle School in Grand Rapids, Michigan. It was created as a research project. Please see Bibliography page for sources. http://members.aol.com/alfson102/etiquette.htm

Victorian Manners


A lady or gentleman should finish their toilet before entering the room for dancing, as it is indecorous in either to be drawing on their gloves, or brushing their hair. Finish your toilet in the dressing rooms.
Always recognize the lady or gentleman, or the director of ceremonies with becoming politeness: a salute or bow is sufficient.
A lady should always have an easy, becoming and graceful movement while engaged in a quadrille or promenade. It is more pleasing to the gentleman.
A lady should never engage herself for more than the following set, unless by the consent of the gentleman who accompanies her. It is very impolite and insulting in either lady or gentleman while dancing in quadrille, to mar the pleasure of others by galloping around or inside the next set.
If a gentleman, without proper introduction, should ask a lady with whom he is not acquainted to dance or promenade, the lady should positively refuse.
Recollect, the desire of imparting pleasure, especially to the ladies, is one of the essential qualifications of a gentleman.
Ladies should not be too hasty in filling their program on their entrance to the ball room, as they may have cause for regret should a friend happen to enter.
An introduction in a public ball room must be understood by the gentleman to be for that evening only, after which the acquaintanceship ceases, unless the lady chooses to recognize it at any further time or place.
A lady should not attend a public ball without an escort, nor should she promenade the ball room alone; in fact, no lady should be left unattended. [from the Universal Dancing Master by Lucien O. Carpenter, 1880]
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